The research on the importance of the timing of eating on nutrition and health is called chrono nutrition (chronos originates from the Old Greek word for time). Irregular eating is a possible modifiable risk factor for many chronic non-communicable diseases. We have shown that people with an irregular intake pattern had a lower calorie intake but a higher risk of having overweight/obesity and the metabolic syndrome compared with people with a regular intake pattern. This suggest that a calorie at one moment in time may not always have the same effect compared with another moment in time. In other words, the timing of food consumption matters. The underlying mechanism for this is related to biorhythms and the biological clock. The biological clock makes sure that all bodily processes, including metabolic processes, occur at the most optimal time of day.
Due to the 24-hour economy, it has become more normal for people to work irregularly or in shifts. Working irregularly influences when people eat which has also become more irregular. Irregular working has been associated with health risks like type 2 diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases. We investigate the impact of how chrono-nutrition can possibly contribute to the reduction of chronic diseases and improvement of vitality and sustainable employability.
Part of lifestyle medicine
Research on chrono-nutrition fits perfectly with the bigger picture of using healthy lifestyle (including nutrition) as element of the treatment of chronic diseases. This is also called lifestyle medicine. It is well known that an unhealthy lifestyle contributes significantly to chronic diseases. Therefore, rather than treating chronic diseases with drugs, which is often mainly aimed at symptom reduction, it makes much more sense to tackle the underlying cause. It is important to realise that this involves people thus it should be applicable in day-to-day life, as eventually it comes down to behaviour change. An important outcome we always monitor is vitality and quality of life.
We perform studies in different settings and work with different target groups, e.g. people with and without metabolic disorders and adolescents with and without biological clock disturbances.
- Chromes study, in collaboration with the dietician practice Hoek and Co, see movie on Youtube.
- Suspend2 study, in collaboration with the sleep clinic of hospital Gelderse Vallei Ede, read more in this paper on the relationship of chrono-nutrition in adolescents with and without a biological clock disturbance.
- Irregular eaters have an increased risk of the metabolic syndrome
- When to eat (podcast)
- Newest paper: Chrono-nutrition, an emerging, modifiable risk factor for chronic disease?
- Chrono-nutrition: from molecular and neuronal mechanisms to human epidemiology and timed feeding patterns
- In Sync: how to take control of your many body clocks (New Scientist)